How to Cope with Traumatic Stress

By Brittany Phillips

A typical response to an unexpected and overwhelming situation is traumatic stress. Symptoms often improve over time, however some who experience more severe symptoms may require professional help.

Common Responses to Traumatic Stress

People frequently experience shock, disorientation, or a difficulty processing upsetting information after experiencing a traumatic event. After these first reactions pass, you may have a range of thoughts and behaviors.

  • Uncharacteristic Feelings- You may be experiencing anxiety, uncertainty, overwhelm, or grief. Additionally, you might feel more emotional or moodier than normal.
  • Fluctuation in Thoughts and Behaviors- You might recall the incident repeatedly and in great detail. These flashbacks could happen suddenly and cause physical symptoms like perspiration or a quick heartbeat. You might find it difficult when making decisions or concentrating. Both eating and sleeping schedules can be thrown off. While some may overeat and oversleep, others may have a loss of appetite and sleep.
  • Sudden Environmental Sensitivity- alarms, horns or other environmental loud noises may cause a reaction or trigger memories which may increase your anxiety.
  • Strained Relationships- There may be an increase in the amount of conflict in your life, such as arguments with family members and coworkers more frequently. Additionally, you could retreat, isolate yourself, or stop participating in your typical social activities
  • Physical Symptoms of Stress- There is a chance you will experience symptoms of physical stress such as chest pain, nausea, and headaches that can appear after a traumatic event.

How to Cope with Traumatic Stress?

Thankfully, there are a number of highly successful coping strategies and trauma-related stressor treatments available. These behaviors, according to psychologists and other studies, can help:

  • Rely on your loved ones- Choose your family or friends as your source of support. If you’re ready, you could share your experience with them regarding the traumatic event. To reduce some of your everyday stress, you can also ask for help from your loved ones with household chores or other daily responsibilities.
  • Acknowledge your Feelings- It’s normal to want to put a traumatic event behind you and not think about or deal with it. But, it’s not healthy to cope with your trauma by avoiding what happened or by avoiding your support system and any excessive avoidance can potentially extend not only the traumatic stress but can prolong your healing time.
  • Self-Care is not Self-Ish- Only you know how to truly care for yourself in the way that you need. If that looks like a short 10-minute shower, or a full-on trip to the salon, it’s okay to arrange ways to make that happen. It is not selfish to do what only you know you need in order to get your health back to a good place.
  • Trust the Process and Give it Time- It’s important to remember that time is needed after experiencing a traumatic event. Give yourself grace, and be patient with how your individual body needs to heal and improve towards full recovery.

When to get Help?

While some people will recover on their own, many will need counseling to fully heal and recover. If you are ready to begin the journey of overcoming your trauma then we are here for you. At New Vision Counseling and Consulting we have a team of caring therapists who are highly trained in helping you work through trauma and create a life you want to be a part of. The natural next step is to call us at (405) 921-7776 or go to our website at NewVisionCounseling.Org. We hope to meet you soon!


11209 N May Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73120


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